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tv   Nightline  ABC  February 25, 2010 11:35pm-12:05am EST

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tonight on "nightline," american psycho. how this dashing dating game contestant -- >> please welcome rodney. >> became one of america's biggest serial killers. we can reveal the shocking inside story. storm warning. a man is crushed to death as a massive storm slams into the northeast tonight. we'll have the latest from the snow zone. and, life support. president obama goes head to head with his opponents in the great health care summit. so, was there harmony and progress? not so much. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, martin bashir and cynthia mcfadden in new york city, this is "nightline,"
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february 25th, 2010. >> good evening, i'm terry moran. and tonight, in a courtroom in los angeles, the career of a brutal new serial killer has been revealed. it started with a string of frighteningly sadistic murders, four beautiful young women and a 12-year-old girl found dead. investigators chased this killer for years, and finally, they targeted a brilliant and charismatic photographer named rodney alcala. he first came to the public's attention on a game show. but now, officials believe he might be one of the worst serial killers in history. mike von fremd has our report on the so-called dating game killer. >> it's "the dating game." >> reporter: the year is 1978, and "the dating game" is a household hit. >> bachelor number one. >> yes? >> what's your best time? >> the best time is at night.
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nighttime. >> reporter: on this episode, bachelor number one is rodney alcala. >> why do you say that? >> because that's the only time there is. >> reporter: the bachelorette seems intrigued by rodney. >> i'm a trauma teacher and i'm going to audition each of you for my private class. bachelor number one, you're a dirty old man. take it. >> come on over here. >> reporter: rodney wins the date. but what the bachelorette does not know is that the man she's just pick ed may turn out to be one of the most brutal and terrifying serial killers in history. >> this could be on easily another ted bundy. >> reporter: today, 66-year-old rodney alcala is in court. >> around 1:00 that afternoon, rodney alcala approached two more teenagers, lori and patty.
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that's a lie. the time that i approached them was 2:22. >> reporter: defending himself on charges that he murdered five california women. investigators believe that's just the tip oaf the icebef the. >> somewhere just below hitler. there's no rhyme or reason for what he's doing. it's not humane what he does to these victims. it's a or ttorture. >> reporter: alcala was a man with a bright future. a fine arts degree from ucla. studied film at nyu and worked for roman polanski. >> i talked to his professor at ucla and his professor came out, said, this guy is a top honor student. he's a really nice guy. he wouldn't hurt a fly. you've got the wrong man. so, you have this monster inside of him. >> reporter: investigators say the slayings began late 1977. jill was a free spirit.
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she traveled out to california with friends when she was just 18 years old. she was in hollywood for only a few weeks when she metal ca alc. >> jill was found right along here. november 10th, 1977. >> reporter: it's not clear how she was picked up, but prosecutors believe they know how she died. >> what he was doing is he was choking her out unconscious, bare-handed, and allowing her to regain consciousness because he enjoyed that. he gets off on the infliction of pain on other people. >> reporter: only one month later, alcala spotted beautiful 27-year-old georgia, who had just recently moved into her fist apartment. >> and he followed her home. he crawled in her window and he absolutely brutalized her. >> reporter: police believe alcala likely targeted stunning charlotte at a local bar and tried to approach her. >> before rodney alcala, just
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like the others, a beautiful young woman. beautiful. after rodney alcala, she's a brutalized, ripped up corpse. >> reporter: charlotte was discovered in the laundry room of her building. >> he posed her dead body. he propped her arms up under her back, probably to arch her up so her breasts would be better exposed. >> reporter: one year later, rodney alcala was spotted dancing with another attractive 21-year-old named jill. just a few days later, she was found, her tortured body in almost the exact same fashion as georgia and charlotte. >> living alone, another independent person. that was just another brutal, brutal murder. >> reporter: six days after jill's body was found, rodney alcala met his youngest victim. 12-year-old robin. investigators say she was riding
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her bicycle to her very first ballet class, when alcala convinced her to get in his car. her body was found 12 days later. >> robin was in the innocent child stage still. she was on the child side of 12. all she cared about was ballet. he turned this beautiful young girl into a rotting corpse eaten by animals. >> reporter: alcala has been twice convicted for the murder of robin. but twice, those verdicts were overturned. robin's mother is in court once again, facing her daughter's killer. during the first trial, in the days before metal detectors, she carried a pistol in her pocketbook when she took the stand with the intent to seek her own justice. >> he was blowing kisses at me across the courtroom. i thought i was going to lose my mind. and i thought i was going to go crazy, you know? and i reached in my purse, i was going to grab it and i
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thought -- i can't do this. >> you have to come to a conclusion that robin did have pierced ears. >> reporter: alcala has spent over 30 years obsessing about the murder of robin. he's even written a book proclaiming his innocence. robin's brother says the worst thing is watching alcala perk up in court every time he gets the chance to see old photographs of his alleged victims. >> you see the gleam in his eye. you can see the eyebrows move. he's enjoying this again. >> reporter: prosecutors say alcala used his skills as a photographer to lure his victims. the same day robin disappeared, four different women, still recall alcala trying to get them to pose for him in their bah key knees on the beach for a photo contest. over 1,000 photos taken by alcala were taken in a storage locker in seattle, including these bikini photos shot the day
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rob bip din disappeared. >> you walk up and say, you know, you want to be in pictures? i mean, basically, he was a skilled photographer. >> reporter: investigators believe there may be clues to countless other victims in the photographs. >> we believe there's more out there. it wouldn't surprise me if he ended up 10 to 15 more. >> reporter: new york city law enforcement believes there is evidence of at least two other murders committed by alcala. but he's never been charged. in 1977, he was studying at nyu, and using the alias john berger. >> and it was during that horrible summer of sam. >> reporter: and sheila well earl's cousin met him. >> he was a photographer and she wrote the name john berger in her address book and she disappeared. >> reporter: ellen was just 23 years old. a new york socialite whose father owned a los angeles nightclub. her disappearance and murder was
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front page news. >> it was heartbreaking to everybody in the family. people don't forget these things. even years later, they don't forget the loveliness of a young woman and the absolute awfulness of this kind of a murder. >> reporter: back in court this week, alcala spent his entire closing argument rambling about only one case. robin. >> magical thinking. magical thinking is an irrational belief that one can bring about the circumstance by thinking about it or wishing for it. >> it's the one that took him down. the other ones -- it's a fluke now to him that the other ones came up. he thought he had it all beat. >> reporter: alcala says he could not have killed robin. his proof? his appearance on "the dating game." investigators found an earring belonging to robin in alcala's storage locker. they believe this links him to the crime. but alcala showed this clip claiming he wore the earring on
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the show. a year before rabin was found murdered. >> what a liar he is. it doesn't show robin's earrings. he doesn't wear any, either. >> reporter: in his closing, prosecutor murphy says alcala's defense just does not add up. >> the conquest, the sneaking around and the rape and the killing and the torture and the sadistic infliction of pain. part oaf what he enjoys is getting away with it. >> reporter: and the jury agreed. >> we the jury find the defendant guilty. >> reporter: guilty on all 15 counts. his long hair shielded his emotions from the camera, but not the prosecutor. >> he looked nervous. in talking to his investigator. his hands were shaking. >> reporter: but it's little solace for the victim's families. >> i still look at little blond girls when they come past me to turn around. i forget a lot of things except the most important thing i can't forget, and that's her and how
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she died. >> reporter: for "nightline" this is mike von fremd in los angeles. >> and our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims' families. when we come back, we'll turn the page. snow, wind, rain. you name it, this storm is snow, wind, rain. you name it, this storm is bringing it. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzz♪ zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ♪ [ male announcer ] every business day, bank of america lends nearly $3 billion dollars to individuals, institutions, schools, organizations and businesses in every corner of the economy. america. ♪ growing stronger. every day. i am a wife. i am a mom... and i was a pack a day smoker for 25 years. i do remember sitting down with my boys,
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[ male announcer ] talk to your doctor to find out it has it has been a record-breaking winter, and at this hour, another dangerous snowstorm is dumping freak snow across a wide swath of the
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northeast, promising yet another day of canceled flights, power outages and closed schools and businesses and sledding and snowball fights and snowmen. while the calendar says there's another month of winter left, by almost any other measure, this winder has already left quite a mark. sam champion has tonight's report. >> you got to get out there and start shoveling, plowing, cleaning after your car. >> streets just buried under snow. >> snow has been falling since about 6:00 a.m. >> folks are trudging through a wintry mess. >> reporter: and here we go again. although week, another huge snowstorm, slapping the east coast. >> i used to love the winter because you can always put on a sweater or a jacket and stay warm -- i'm waiting -- i can't wait for the summer to come now. >> it's heavy stuff. real heavy. you can't plow regular. >> one of the toughest storms i've seen, yeah. >> i'm totally done with the snow. ready for spring.
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so ready for spring. >> reporter: hundreds of flights have been canceled at airports throughout the northeast. in new york city, things turned deadly when a tree struck and killed a man walking through central park. and even in regions used to major snowfall like upstate new york, the storm has people worried. syracuse university can semied classes for just the third time in the last 17 years. it's enough to make you crazy. even in a part of the country that's no stranger to winter snow, but nothing like what's hit this season. in scranton, pennsylvania, residents have had enough. >> down here about 20 years. this is probably the worst one. >> never seen anything like this? >> no, not consistency of storms, one afternoon another. >> reporter: this is the sixth major winter storm to affect the east coast this year. philadelphia, baltimore, washington, d.c., wilmington, delaware, atlantic city, new jersey, have all surpassed their all-time winter snow records. and this very powerful nor'easter is unusual in its path, direction, duration and
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even the types of weather extremes. it's path and direction? this storm moving inland, then does a loop, then pucks off the shoreline. the duration of this storm, probably two to three days before it clears new england. and types of weather? it has it all. from rough winds and beach erosion to heavy floofding rains to a mixture of rain and snow, to heavy snow and even blizzard conditions. the unrelenting series of february storms have taxed steps and states already reefling from budget cuts. philadelphia had slammed a season record for snowfall, even before this storm arrived. the step and the rest of pennsylvania are struggling with the cost of repeated storms. >> it is done a devastating job to our city budget. there was no way in the world that we could anticipate this has been the snowiest winter in the history of the city of philadelphia. over 70 inches in the course of this winter, and with upwards of eight anticipated tonight into tomorrow. so it's been rough.
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>> reporter: is it more difficult for a city like philadelphia face the snow removal during tough budget times? >> service and budget cuts that we've already had to make and then on top of it, 23 1/2 inches in a storm, 28 1/2 inches in another storm, almost 16 in another, and now upwards of eight this evening, it's personnel, it's time, it's loss of business enterprise in the city. because of slowed down activity. so, it's -- there could not be a worst time to have all of these storms, heavier snowstorm during the worst economy in recent history. you put those two together, it's pretty devastating to philadelphia and many other cities up and down the east coast. >> reporter: will you take this year and be able to use it as a model for snow removal in years future? >> well, we hope to never have that kind of year again. >> reporter: by the time the storm pucks off the eastern seaboard friday, there will have
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been two feet of snow in some places. there will be flooding from heavy rains. power outages, trees down, and some people may be dealing with the afteraffects of this storm well past the weekend. for "nightline," this is sam champion in philadelphia. >> 23 days until spring. sam will have all the latest on the storm tomorrow on "good morning america." and when we come back, how to ride a bike like this. (announcer) chug that coffee, bolt that burrito. no matter what life throws at you, you can take the heat. until it turns into... heartburn. good thing you've got what it takes to beat that heat, too. zantac. it's strong, just one pill can knock out the burn. it's fast, the speed you need for heartburn relief. and it lasts, up to 12 hours. so let them turn up the heat. you can stop that heartburn cold: (sssssssss!!!) zantac.
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>> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city with terry moran. >> do you ever spend the day looking at benches, fences, roofs or trees and think to yourself, how can i ride my bike
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up or over, off of that thing? no? well, danny mccaskill does, and he's become a youtube sensation in the most extreme order. nick watt as our report. >> reporter: danny mccaskill was a bike mechanic from scotland. then he posted a 5:38 clip on youtube. ♪ within hours, danny's phone was ringing. milli millions watched this. ♪ >> i got asked to be in the
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circus. i turned that one down. and i got asked to be on the ellen degeneres show, as well. i really didn't know what that was at all, so i said no to that, as well. >> reporter: danny is one in a long line of youtube sensations. but like his fellow scot, susan boyle, is one of the few to turn a flash of fame into, perhaps, a sustained career. >> i never had a goal at all to be a profession al. designers want to sponsor me. that might have made me money, but i don't want to end up looking like an idiot. >> reporter: instead, he's appeared in rock videos and tv commercials. like this one for volume kkswav. have you bought an apartment, do you have a car? >> no, no. yeah, not really.
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i've not been doing anything at all. i just buy myself nicer food. >> reporter: nicer food? anyway, now he's sponsored by an energy drink maker and travels the world. >> unfortunately i've broken my collarbone at the moment and it's my third one in four months. >> reporter: danny's story begins on the remote isle of skye off scotland, age 4, he started. >> i got my bike taking off me -- >> reporter: by the police? >> yeah, by the police. >> reporter: when he left school, he moved to the highlands, and then to edinburgh with a guy named dave. >> in 2008, david fell right in bmx and broke his leg. he offered to do some filming with me. >> reporter: they got carried away and spent six months over a scottish winter making this clip. sunny days, they filmed. on rainy days, danny scoped locations.
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>> everything i look at, you know, i kind of look at it, well this is definitely defrg you look at, you think, what can you do on your bike? i do things that are normal to me. >> reporter: my favorite? danny rode his bike off the roof of this store where he worked before the internet turned him into a pro biker, bought him a sponsorship deal that now allows him to ride full time. >> i can really come up with dreams, really come up with whatever i want to, and we can put stuff in place, can actually go and try these things. >> reporter: danny has left his old life and his old job behind, but not his roommate. dave is still his cameraman. i'm nick watt for "nightline" in edinburgh. >> do not try that at home. pretty impressive.
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when we come back, tensions rise, tempers flare at the health care summit. and that's the subject of tonight's closing argument. first, jimmy kimmel with what's coming up next on "jimmy kimmel live." jimmy? >> jimmy: thanks, terry. tonight, gordon ramsay, ginnifer goodwin, music from vv brown, and chuck liddell naked, so stay up.
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